Traverse City Trails Festival 2019 p/b Short's Brewing Company Recap
Saturday was a day for counting blessings. The temps were far cooler than anticipated, NMMBA had an army of volunteers out in the woods and at Ranch Rudolph to look after all 400 riders, and we had mile after mile of divine singletrack to shred with old friends and new. On a day where so many pushed themselves to new limits, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind ourselves that these trails wouldn’t be what they are without NMMBA. Without the trails, we wouldn’t have the big, happy mountain bike community that we enjoy in TC, so they’re work is so crucial to keeping the good knobby vibes alive.
The Race of the Day
As many predicted, the race of the day was the women’s 40-mile event. Day-of registrant Kaitlyn Patterson’s appearance must have thrown a wrench in many’s plans for the day, but no one was going to let KP ride away unchallenged.
As the women got back to Muncie Lakes with just a few miles to go, Kaitlyn held a gap of just under a minute over Laura Webb and Megan Doerr. Webb and Doerr were taking turns pushing the pace over the rollers back to the ranch in hopes of catching Patterson, with their pace being hindered slightly by riders who bonked late in the race. (Mostly, me. Hope I didn’t get your way!) KP’s metronomic cadence helped her arrive to the finish just seconds ahead of Doerr and Webb, in one of the most thrilling finishes yet at the TCTF. A charging Courtney Greening was just a few minutes back, suggesting that if just a few things went differently on course, we could easily have had a four-way fight for the win. As it stood, this is one that’ll go down in the books as one of the best races TCTFF as seen in its short existence.
25-Mile Race Highlights
Kyle Macdermaid took home the win just two seconds ahead of John O’Hearn in the XC-style 25-mile event. Making Kyle’s win even more impressive is the fact that he’s been battling wrist issues for months, which has only allowed him to train outside one or two days a week. Zwifting to building fitness in July is something only a saint could do, so this win is well earned. Rob Martin took third, with Rob Martin, Max Meyer, and Aaron Zuelke rounding out the top five.
In continuing the trend of close finishes, Shannon Kochis narrowly took the win ahead of Erica' O’Hearn in the women’s open. O’Hearn has been improving leaps and bounds at SOL each week, and being able to match the pace and skill of someone like Kochis is seriously impressive stuff. Chelsey Schmidt smiled her way to third place on the day, with Beth Grassa coming home just behind to take fourth.
A special note on the Sport 18 & Under race, where Luke Zuelke took the win just forty seconds ahead of Drew Cummins. How cool is it to see these kids going so fast? These kids’ times are competitive in the Expert Open field, for Pete’s sake! Be sure to give these kids encouragement when you see them out on the trails. They need to know they’re welcome in our community and that we want them to enjoy what they’re doing out there.
In the men’s 40-mile race, no one had an answer for Jorden Wakeley, who put in another demonstrative showing. He was the only rider to break the 2:30 mark, and averaged over 16.1 mph to do it; a full .5 mph faster than the next highest average speed.
To the rest of the field’s credit, they didn’t sit back and race for second. Sunset paired with Singletrack God, Scott Quiring, to force the issue and make Wakeley work for the win all the way to the line. They deservedly took the remaining podium spots, with teen heartthrob Garrett Jenema in fourth and the smoothest dude around, Josh Zelinski, in fifth. Kolo TC was represented by Dan Ellis in eighth, who put on a show in the singletrack. Brad Pauly and Kyan Olshove round out the top ten, while I almost forgot to mention that Greek Yogurt himself, Alex Vanias, took a break from “double poling” (whatever that is) to hop on his bike and put himself in seventh.
You won’t find a race with more smiles than the 15-miler. Every age and every experience level was represented in a format that was designed to make sure this event is accessible to everyone. We needn’t have worried, as these racers knew exactly what needed to be done to conquer a shorter, but no less challenging course.
We wanted to give a special shoutout to the riders in the 14 & Under category, where Brandon Langley took the win over Norte’s Ferocious Teddy Bear, Grady Ellis. Willie Bachert looks to have recovered well from his injuries after crashing into Keith’s parked van at Pancake Ride, taking home a very strong third place.
Thank You, NMMBA!
A big thank you to NMMBA for putting on such a great event, and for all the hard work you do all year long to maintain and grow our incredible trail system. If you missed the race yesterday but want to help NMMBA out, consider making a donation or signing up for a membership.
Please don’t just donate and forget about it. Be sure to follow NMMBA on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for their newsletter to see what your money is helping them do in the woods to make your rides more fun.
Oh, and be sure to drink Short’s Brewing Company - they’ve done so much to help out our mountain bike community and we’ll be forever grateful. And thirsty!